We sailed into the night on a dark and cold Monday docking at our second favorite hotel chain, Walmart, after only a few hours driving. Ironman and Tempo, AussieOne and Big Red, and a new addition, Griz (short for Grizabella – think “Cats”). Opportunity had knocked allowing us to unexpectedly escape our ordinary lives for a six-day work-play trip to Galveston. I was going home to the place of my birth.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its nets of wonder forever ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau
Galvestonians have a tag “BOI” (Born On the Island) for native islanders and we wear it proudly. I recently Googled this tag and was shocked to see that it was hijacked by yet another alternative agenda. But I’ll not be run off from my heritage. Respect!
Day two was a travel day. We were up early and moving fast. I wanted to get through Houston before rush hour (which actually lasts about four hours). The only nice thing I have to say about driving in Houston is that I lived through it. Houstonians change lanes by driving into the side of your vehicle counting on you slamming on your brakes and preventing a collision. It takes some getting used to. But, I’m driving a 28,000 lb. vehicle so screw ’em. This day was cold, rainy and windy; it was chippy out there.
I will never tire of the warm and nurturing feeling I get when I go up the Causeway (I-45) and cross over onto the Island. I feel like a child again and the memories flood my brain to terminal overflow. What a high. Once on the Island we took Broadway (Ave. J) east to the SandPiper RV park located in the 200 block of SeaWall Blvd on Stewart Beach. The office and pool area had a familiar look to it and then I remembered that as a child I had nearly drowned in that very pool. I think it was called Christy Mitchell (SP?) Pool back then when this was not an RV park. We checked in, found our spot and set up for the week.
That night the wind came up strong bringing back memories of Hurricane Carla, a Cat. 5 hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast in 1961. I only remember the high winds and seas since I was only two years old then, but, somehow I remember. It was thought at the time that Galveston would be Carla’s primary target so my dad sent mom and I up to Houston for safety’s sake, but, Port O’Connor, Tx, southwest of Galveston, took the direct hit instead. Strange that Hurricane Beulah did the same thing in 1967 (I remember that one also); however, Beulah struck further down the coast. Galveston would be later hit by two hurricanes a couple of decades apart, Hurricanes Alicia and Ike both had devastating effects on the island landscape and its people. Scars from Ike are still present along the more remote sections of the seawall, not to mention the absence of the Flag Ship Hotel which was ruined by Ike and later torn down. The Flag Ship was replaced the by Pier 21 amusement park. Not the same.
Wednesday morning was the first full work day on the road (for me anyway). So it was an early alarm for us. As I forced an eye open and the first crack of light peeked through the shades, I realized the sun wasn’t quite up yet! I jumped up throwing on shorts and a hoodie. Looking around the living room in the darkness I noticed the cats were swirling about like roaches. Ignoring them I grabbed my phone and AussieOne and we jogged to the beach. I wanted to see a clean (no smog!) sunrise. I was not disappointed. Like an old, smiling and warm friend the sun eased over the eastern horizon, illuminating the oil tankers loaded into a queue at the mouth of the Galveston Bay (They were in line for the journey up the Houston Ship Channel). What a spectacular sunrise it was!
“Galveston, oh, Galveston, I still hear your seawards blowing…”
~ Glen Campbell
And so we went through our day of work. I wouldn’t call it boring staring at the sea as I pounded away on my computer but it was…well, work. That night Tempo grilled ground(ed) chicken (how much more mileage am I going to get out that video anyway?), we watched a little TV and went to sleep…with the waves pounding in the background.
Thursday was more of the same with the exception of two things. First the RV park was suddenly packed and rowdy. Mardi Gras was upon us and all that entails. Second, AussieOne went to the beach for the first time in his young life! I’ve never seen a dog so scared of a little wave. The visual was priceless and marked the end of another long work day. If not for the rudeness and rowdiness of our neighbors I could have called this a near perfect day. Oh, and AussieOne pooped on the beach, right at the edge of the waterline. Chasing little doggie floaties is not my idea of fun, but, I couldn’t see myself leaving that for someone else to deal with. Sigh.
Friday was again a work morning. We stopped at midday to perform a little routine maintenance on the Whip and I left to pick up our rental car. The Island was feeling bigger by the day and we wanted to explore a bit. Since our work was done we went on island time. Everything started moving nice and slow and the worries of the world mattered to us no more. We drove around the island, without agenda, finally settling down on the fantastic, dog-friendly restaurant patio of Ocean Grille & Beach Bar. With an outdoor ocean view we dined on crab and shrimp. The flavor and texture of the seafood hinted of its having been in the ocean earlier that morning. Now that’s fresh! Two hours later we were back in the rental cruising the island. I took Tempo by my child-hood home and neighborhood, boring her with tales of my juvenile feats and the little girl that pushed me out of her tree house, forever crushing my young heart. Marcia, wherever you are, I forgive you.
We ended the day at Jamaica Beach (an actual incorporated city and beach on the west end of Galveston island) where we got some fantastic pictures of nature and the obligatory sunset shot. Later we talked the night away finally settling down for a good night’s rest…to the pounding waves. Saturday was the start of the Mardi Gras Parades!
Saturday. AussieOne is the main reason we started RVing in the first place. Having the Whip meant we could take him with us on vacation without the hassle of finding a dog friendly hotel everywhere we went. This is very important to us and we made a major investment to make this happen. So you can imagine our surprise when we showed up at the Mardi Gras entrance on the Strand and were told we could not bring AussieOne inside. Let me be clear here. This is one well trained and wonderful pup. We found it almost insulting to see people walking around with beer (half in the bag already) and unruly children, allowed in and our baby denied. Not to be defeated we walked a couple of blocks down from the main event and waited for the first parade of the day to arrive.
We were not disappointed by the parade. It arrived with booming fanfare, bursting with color and flying beads. AussieOne was properly adorned, his dignity once again in tact.
This had to have been the longest parade we’d ever seen. Floats of every shape and size, and dozens of pounding bands marching with impressive precision and a touch of showmanship. We lasted about two hours before hunger pulled us to our feet. Making our way to the rental we drove off in search of food. Mardi Gras traffic and blocked streets made navigating the island an exercise in frustration. Defeated we ended up at the same restaurant as the night before and forced ourselves to eat fresh crab and shrimp…again. In addition to the craft beer we added an excellent Pinot Noir to cap off the meal.
As we waddled out to the car, helped along by the cool sea breeze and the tugging of AussieOne, I couldn’t help but feel extremely fortunate to have these moments with Tempo. I don’t know what the future has in store for us but these moments are ours to keep. We finished out the night in the Whip, talking and enjoying our fine cheap wine. Sunday was a travel day, but, we had the moment and we weren’t giving up one second of it.
It was the end of the day, our feet were dirty, our hair was messy and our eyes were twinkling.
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